TYRES: Valley Tyres

By: David Goeldner


An Asia Pacific search for a cost effective heavy duty tyre is now paying dividends back home

TYRES: Valley Tyres
Valley Tyres General Manager Greg Blais, confident of a long lasting future with Aeolus tyres

In the four decades that traces the history of leading New South Wales independent tyre retailer, Valley Tyres, the Year 2013 is shaping as one of its biggest and busiest, built around a tyre concept taking hold in trucking, and now moving to buses.

Valley Tyres Business Development Manager Mark Robson confidently backs the tyre brand leading the busy retailer into a new wave of tyre supply – Aeolus tyres.

"It’s a product that works, it’s successful in the marketplace and its priced right," Robson says.

Having gained popularity in the trucking sector, the Aeolus tyre brand has assisted Valley Tyres’ expansion into urban tyres, which is where the bus industry comes into frame.

"We are getting good results through government contracts for urban bus tyres," Robson says.

Valley Tyres General Manager Greg Blais has worked alongside the region’s bus industry to meet its tyre needs.

"Aeolus has been in the bus sector for more than two years now, starting with a trial for [State Transit Authority]," Blais says.

Valley Tyres is the exclusive NSW distributor of Aeolus, but Aeolus is not the only tyre brand sold by the East Maitland heavy vehicle specialist, although times have moved on from stocking almost exclusively Michelin and Goodyear tyres two decades ago.

Robson says Aeolus has been measured against other tyre brands, and it’s no surprise to him or Blais, that the tyre from China provides a better cost per kilometre (CPK) than some well-known products in the market.

"You may get major brands that last a bit longer, up to 200,000km on a long-haul truck, and a set might cost $1,000, making the CPK 35 cents a kilometre."

He says that while a similar set of Aeolus tyres at $350 could do the job nicely up to 180,000km coming out at CPK 19 cents on a similar road application, this set at half the price would actually give 45 percent more ‘bang for the buck’.

"On a cost per kilometre basis it’s vastly cheaper," Robson says.

"We come into today’s economic climate where the outlay of every dollar is as much a concern of what the outlay of that dollar will bring back to the business."

Robson says this is where the Aeolus product really kicks in.

"You don’t have to outlay massive dollars upfront, and you are still getting a product that gives you longevity and works quite well," he says.

Robson is also keen to spruik the virtues of the Aeolus, along with its stabl mate Windpower, as environmentally-friendly products, which gives the company a good deal of ‘cred’ both at home in China and abroad – and not before time.

There is mounting concern over environmental conditions in Chinese manufacture, and a quick glance of CNN coverage of the polluted Beijing skyline gives testimony to the imperative to ‘go green’, which is what Aeolus has done through its ‘greening’ of its tyre production.

Aeolus has gone deep into ‘green’, principally for the European market.

Blais explains that the manufacture of the green tyre has environmental benefits for China, Australia, United States and Europe.

The manufacturing process uses less electricity, therefore less air pollution and draw on fuel resources.

For the operator, the green tyre has less rolling resistance, and less fuel required for vehicle operation.

"This development required stringent testing for the European market," Blais says.

Aeolus is now viewed as China’s leading tyre producer working to meet European environmental standards.       

On the supply side, the longstanding relationship with Aeolus stems from a strategic move initiated by Blais almost two decades ago.

TAPPING INTO THE SOURCE

Blais first travelled to China in the 1990s to seek factories with which Valley Tyres could form a long-standing and enduring partnership.

Early meetings with other Chinese companies didn’t suit the Valley Tyres desire for a long-term scenario, until Blais found Aeolus.

"People will always come back for quality," he says.

"And this factory provides continuity of stock, and specialised rubber compounding with one of the largest ranges of tyres out of China."

Given that Valley Tyres’ source of supply comes from a government bonded factory in China’s northern Henan province, also the home of the region’s largest bus factory, gives a high degree of certainty in the supply chain.

"China is the tyre production capital of the world now," Blais says.

"We used to manufacture tyres in Australia, but with globalisation the shift to China has been incredible," he says.

Blais says there is ‘openness’ in being able to source product from China, and he has witnessed tyre production first hand.

"Not all Chinese tyres are the same," he says.

"I would say we have been extremely fortunate to get onto Aeolus because they invest so much into rubber compounding to make a good product."

Blais says tyre development is not just about the tyre pattern or the depth of tread.

"It’s about the rubber mix, how much natural rubber is injected into the tyres, how much carbon black is in the mix, and the curing time – these are the ingredients of good tyre manufacture – and Aeolus uses a good rubber compound," he says.

"Buses needs security, safety and quality and it’s a proven safe solution."

A LIFE IN THE GUTTER

Tyres used for stop-start route service work share a common design requirement with your friendly neighbourhood waste collection service – both tyres have thick high walls with deep treads.

These tyres spend their lives in and out of gutters, which cause extreme sidewall wear.

Valley Tyres General Manager, Greg Blais says a waste disposal truck will use the same tyre as found on a route service bus.

"You stop, pull up against a gutter, and often rub and wear the sidewall as you pull the garbage up," he says.

Both applications require a quiet tyre, which is dependent on the tread pattern. Town and regional councils operating both or either route buses and garbage collection services are deemed a suitable market for the deep tread-style tyre. And these tyres must have kerb and sidewall protection.

As it happens, Valley Tyres exclusive NSW distribution of Aeolus tyres fits the bill nicely.

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